September is the time of year when we kick-off our new church program year. This usually involves two special Sundays.
1) Move up Sunday, where our children/youth move up to their new grades - sometimes involving room or ministry program changes.
2) Kick-Off Sunday, where we celebrate the dawning of the new program year usually with a fabulous food spread. Food is something that UCC has always been good at!
This year things look a little different but we are still really excited to mark the beginning of a new program year:
We may have to continue to do things differently, but what matters is we do them together! And I am thankful to be doing ministry with you.
Join us Saturday September 5 between 11:30 - 1 PM for a Drive-through Kick Off Parade and Blessing Bag pickup!
Here's what you won't want to miss:
See you there with your mask on!
Ready or not…
As this new school year kicks off without all the normal stuff, back-to-school activities look much different than any of us could have expected.
I am rushing around the house, trying to get everything set up for Charlie (6 ½) who is starting 1st grade, virtually, while attempting to corral our Annalise, our 2 ½ year old, who thinks she, too, is starting 1st grade. She pulls up her chair right next to Charlie as we practice some of the on-line activities that he and I both will need to learn very quickly. We are ordering school supplies on the HEB website, and having Amazon deliver tools and all kinds of things we “need” for this year. We are getting Charlie’s new chrome book set up, thanks to an amazingly thoughtful and generous family who knew we didn’t have one. He will become VERY knowledgeable in technology that we have, until now, not introduced in our house.
Meanwhile, we have hung up a curtain in our converted garage (we call it the studio) for Efrain, so that he can have some semblance of a private space where he will teach his art classes, virtually, for the next few weeks (hopefully longer).
And through it all, especially in these last few days, I keep hearing the phrase “ready or not…”
Ready or not, friends, we are starting school, on the computer, at home. Ready or not, Charlie, at 6 ½ will learn how to navigate technology that I don’t even understand.
Some families, in fact, are ready. Ours is not. Except, that it is. Sort of. I don’t know what on-line learning will look like for my family…but ready or not, we’ll find out, together.
I don’t know what next week, or next month will look like on the calendar…but ready or not, we’ll find out, together.
On these days when I’m feeling most “not ready,” God has a funny way of reminding me that I am…at least sort of…
We’ve got the log-in information for the first day of class. That’s something, right?
God is with my family and your family and with all of us as we navigate this new school year. And ready or not, God will be with us.
God is with the teachers, administrators and staff.
God is with the parents.
God is with the students.
Ready or not...we can do this - together.
Emily Jamison Guerrero
“One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leapt out – single stars, constellations, and planets, brighter and bigger than any in our world.”(William S. Burroughs - 1954)
Some of you may remember the 1988 National Republican Convention speech by George H.W. Bush (whom the Europeans would later call “Bush the 1st”), where he used the phrase “ a thousand points of light.” Now, while many thought this an original idea from his speech writers, the phrase was first used by William S. Burroughs in 1954. While the concept was amazing, I am not so sure there was ever any real long term carry-through with the idea. I think that the idea is still very appropriate for us today. Especially today. We have always been called to be “like Christ”, not be Christ but like Christ. We are to have the light of God shine through us. Much like the moon actually gets its light from the sun, we get our light from God. Each of us need only show the small amount of light we each have from God. We each do not have to fix all the problems and cure all the ills of the world. We each only need to show our little light. It is through being in a community of Christ that we can become the bright, warming, illuminating and powerful light of God. Imagine a dark room with only one candle. Now imagine the same room with 300 candles or a thousand candles. All held on high. The light and the warmth is over powering. It is asking too much for a single person to light that entire room. But as a community of believers each adding our own little light, we can be the light of God in that room and our world. Prayers that each of us may all show our little light.
These past few days, I have been delighted to read submissions that have begun trickling in from our first Holy Conversation on favorite hymns. If you haven’t heard already, Holy Conversations is an exciting congregation-wide process that will inquire who we are and where God is calling us. Through a series of progressive conversations, we will ask affirming questions of each other about our shared history, our current identity, and our future directions in ministry. These conversations will form a strategic plan that will inform us of our values, priorities, and current mission. From this, we will be able to discern the congregation’s needs in the way of resources, structure, and leadership.
A strategic planning process like this is long overdue in our congregation, and the interim time is the ideal time for it. Just like voting in our upcoming election this November, every voice matters for the future of our community, so we strongly encourage everyone to join the conversation!
We chose to talk about favorite hymns for our first Holy Conversation because it’s a fun and easy point of entry. We are encouraging each small group, each committee, each study group, each book group, each team, each coffee hour break out room, each meeting -- even each church family -- EVERYONE to spend some time having this Holy Conversation and fill out the form online during the month of August. (If you cannot find a conversation partner, you can complete it by yourself, but we do hope you make this Holy Conversation a conversation with another church member. Holy Conversations should be a process that also builds dialogue and community.) You can always have more than one conversation! These holy conversations will help us understand the congregation’s theology.
From polling our congregation, staff, and our intensive pastoral care efforts, we have concluded our congregation and staff is more than ready to begin this process of strategic planning. Even living through dual pandemics, together we have managed to stabilize the system both emotionally and financially, which is Step 1 on our Road Map of Interim Tasks. We are currently delving into Step 2, by learning about and practicing Holy Conversations with our first conversation, working on training congregational leaders, and creating an informational video about Holy Conversations you will soon see. We plan to begin Step 3 early fall with our second Holy Conversation on church history.
So although we may not be covering many geographic miles these days of shelter-in-place, thanks to you, our congregation is moving ahead at an encouraging pace.